At UN, Turkish Cypriot
Community Has Rare Diplomatic Status, Non
By Matthew Russell Lee
October 28 -- The UN is best described as a club of nation
states. There are, however, exceptions: non-state actors which are
treated for some purposes as states. This is the case of the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus.
on September 25 when Dervis Eroglu of the TRNC took questions from
the Press after a photo op / meeting with UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked on camera about UN special part
envoy Alexander Downer, and off camera about what type of UN
identification pass the TRNC diplomats were using.
October 27 the question was answered. Among with meeting the
Ambassador or Permanent Representative of the TRNC, Inner City Press
spoke with the TRNC's Sertac Guven, whose business card listed him as
“Third Secretary” with an address on the 9th floor of 821 UN
Plaza, home of the UN Mission of Turkey. Both had “D” or
diplomatic passes to the UN - in the name of “Turkish Cypriot
City Press asked what other non-state actors have this special
status. Guven said there was at least one other, but he couldn't
remember the name. (The Polisario Front of Western Sahara comes to
to the TRNC, Inner City Press is told that its special UN status
dates back to 1968, and that Pakistan and Bangladesh, proponents of
partition, briefly recognized the TRNC around 1973, before US
pressure made them retract recognition. (This brings to mind
Nicaragua's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.)
the TRNC cannot speak in the General Assembly or Security Council,
because of the UN's involvement in their talks with the Greek
Cypriots, it's said that two parties are treated as equals while on
UN land. So it's a social club of sovereign states - with at least
Dervis Eroglu of TRNC, UN "D" Diplomatic pass not shown
might explain, for example, the reluctance of Colombia to allow the
UN, even such offices as that on Children and Armed Conflict, to
speak with rebels like the FARC.
so more and more questions. Why not Somaliland? Until last year, why
not Tamil Eelam? The questions could go on and on. And they are
questions we'll pursue -- watch this site.
week the UN was asked about widespread reports that staff of
part time envoy Alexander Downer was the source of the leak of UN
Department of Political Affairs documents about Cyprus. UN spokesman
Martin Nesirky said he had never heard of the controversy, leaving
both Turkish and Greek journalists shaking their heads. We'll have
more on this.
* * *
Views of Downer, “No Right to Be Exhausted,”
Disclosure Still Lacking, Lobbying Not Precluded
25 -- The President of Cyprus Dimitris
Christofias, and leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Dervis Eroglu, talked at cross purposes to the Press at the UN on
September 24 and 25.
City Press asked each about the
performance of UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer, a former
Australian diplomat who now moonlights with the business consultancy
quoted that the Greek Cypriots are “exhausting Downer's patience.”
When Inner City Press asked Christofias about the quote, he replied
that “Alexander Downer has no right to be exhausted. He's a Special
Adviser of the UN Secretary General for two years, maybe less than
two years... We have to be patient.” Video here,
waited until the next morning to ask Eroglu the same question. Eroglu
denied his quote in
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris, by way of
Famagusta Gazette, adopted the more diplomatic position that Downer
must be and is neutral. This was said in Turkish, through an
interpreter. Eroglu added in English, to Inner City Press, that
Downer is “young.. enough.”
was walking jauntily about the UN this week. Some wondered whether
his ubiquity was entirely related to his Cyprus portfolio for the UN,
or might be related to or assist in his private for profit work for
the clients of Bespoke Approach.
has several times asked
Downer to disclose his outside business
interests and clients, so that possible conflicts of interest could
be assessed. Downer has refused, insisting that his work for
for Chinese firms wanting to do business in Australia has nothing to
do with Cyprus.
UN's Ban and the parties (former TRNC) & Downer,
dislosure not shown
a part time Special Adviser or Special Representative like Alexander
Downer, or Tony Blair, or Matthew Nimitz, is given full access to the
UN. People including world leaders will take these people's call,
sometimes in part due to the UN connection. Can this be abused?
Should there be disclosure and then reform? Watch this site.
took place before 10 a.m. on Saturday in the UN's
Temporary North Lawn Building. While security outside on First Avenue
and 42nd Street was post-Obama being dismantled, inside the UN buzzed
with bilateral meetings.
Press spoke, for forthcoming
stories, with for example the Permanent Representatives of Uganda and
South Africa, in the midst of bilateral meetings, and
the Foreign Minister of Indonesia. The mood was collegial, with an
air of relief that the most tense part of the General Debate is over.
The Permanent Representative of Malaysia asked Inner City Press,
“Working on Saturday?” Yes. Watch this site.
* * *
Calls His Business with Huawei "Private" From UN, Zerihoun
27 -- "I have my private life," Alexander
Downer told the Press on Tuesday." It's mine and it's private."
asked Downer, the part time chief of the UN's Good Offices role
for Cyprus, whether the fact that his employer Bespoke Approach
represents Chinese technology firm Huawei, which does business in
Turkey, showed a need for UN rules against the appearance of conflict
Downer said, "I might know more about
this that you... Ipso facto
-- it's my business."
Inner City Press that there
can be no conflict of interest
because Bespoke Approach's clients don't do business in Cyprus or, by
implication, Turkey or Greece, which have direct interests in Mr.
Downer's UN work.
that Downer has
confirmed that Bespoke Approach represents Huawei, which itself brags
on its website about its Turkey business, the question is squarely
raised: why doesn't the UN prohibit or have rules about this?
has promised transparency, and has urged his senior
officials -- although apparently not part time officials like Downer
-- to publicly disclose their financial holdings.
on Tuesday, Mr.
Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky tried to cut off the question by
saying, "Matthew, the Secretary General chose Mr. Downer [based
on] his demonstrated integrity. I don't think one needs to say more
than that." Video here,
having generally applicable rules? If confidence in particular
individuals' integrity was enough, Mr. Ban wouldn't have urged public
disclosure of financial holdings to avoid the appearance of conflict
UN's Ban and Downer, rules against conflicts of
interest not shown
asked two questions about the Cyprus process, Downer sought to
not answer them, saying to Inner City Press, "You're not really
interested in Cyprus."
questions concerned Cypriot president Demetris Christofias' request
to Qatar's Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani that Qatar get
involved in the Cyprus process. How did Downer think this would
dovetail, or not, with his work?
a UN process, Mr. Christofias and Mr. [Dervis] Eroglu are aware of
his press conference did Downer, once reminded, consent to answer
Inner City Press' other question, about the relation of his work with
that of Mr. Ban's current representative to Cyprus, Taye-Brook
Zerihoun. He runs UNFICYP and I run the Good Offices, Downer said. He
is my deputy on the Good Offices. "You are very interested in
this.. I am only part time, Mr. Zerihoun has filled in" for me
and comes to meetings even when I am there.
during Nesirky's briefing while Downer waited to speak, asked
what something it heard and reported yesterday, that Zerihoun is
being recalled to UN Headquarters to replace Haile Menkerios, now in
South Sudan, in the Africa Division of the UN Department of Political
Affairs. When Inner City Press asked if Nesirky could confirm, he
said "Not at the moment, but I'll find out." Video here,
asked Downer if he was aware of Zerihoun, which whom Downer
said he plays golf, leaving the Cyprus post as early as May 1, Downer
said that was for the S-G and his spokesman to answer. Video here,
46:22. Nesirky said,
"I've already answered that." Inner City Press replied, no,
you said you didn't know, you'd find out.
and people in the Department of Political Affairs
were speaking about Zerihoun's getting the job, so was another
spokesperson at the UN. Watch this site.